Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh’

A Day on the Pittsburgh Light Rail System

January 2, 2023

On Friday Dec. 30 I went to Pittsburgh to ride the streetcar system. I got a few photos including some street trackage running.

The first two photographs feature street running in the Beechview area. That is followed by a

a Silver line train, but I forgot the name of the station

Finally, we see a restored PCC at the Heinz History Museum It was a fun day trip.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

No Injuries in Pittsburgh Transit Derailment

October 7, 2022

A Pittsburgh light rail system train derailed on Wednesday in Dormont.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit officials said there were no injuries in the mishap, which disrupted service on the Red Line for more than three hours.

The derailment occurred at about 10 a.m. near Kelton Avenue southwest of downtown Pittsburgh.

Officials did not give a cause of the derailment, saying it remains under investigation.

Along the River in Pittsburgh

August 5, 2022

A westbound CSX merchandise train passes beneath the Fort Pitt Bridge on June 11, 2011, on the Pittsburgh Subdivision. Across the Monongahela River is the impressive skyline of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. A short distance to the left the Monongahela joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River.

There was no way to know it at the time but this outing with Peter Bower would prove to be a turning point in my railroad photography. At the time I was still shooting film.

A couple of rolls of slide film that I exposed on this trip along with one later in the week to Bellevue with Ed Ribinskas would wind up being ruined by the developer and thus those images were lost.

It would be the proverbial last straw that convinced me to switch to acquire a digital single lens reflex camera the following month.

Peter and I would later return to Pittsburgh on another railfan outing and made more images of the CSX Pittsburgh Sub in action.

I’ve since made dozens of photographs of railroad operations in Pittsburgh. Yet this is one of my favorites.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Gets Approval of Pittsburgh Clearance Project

June 1, 2022

The Pittsburgh City Council has signed off on a plan by Norfolk Southern to increase clearances through the city to accommodate double-stacked container trains on its Pittsburgh Line.

The council approved a plan set forth in December 2019 by a mediator to raise bridges in some locations and lower the tracks in others.

The three bridges to be raised are on West North Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, and South Negley Avenue. They will be raised by 30, 33, and 17 inches respectively.

Tracks will be lowered by 18 inches beneath the Columbus Avenue bridge. A new bridge will replace the existing Merchant Street structure.

NS also agreed to build a pedestrian bridge at North Avenue and Brighton Road.

Funding for the work is being provided in part through a $20 million federal grant.

Derailment Oil Spills Leads to River Closure

May 27, 2022

The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered closed to boating a portion of the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh after investigators found an oil spill from a Norfolk Southern derailment in the water.

The derailment occurred Thursday afternoon in Harmar Township on the Conemaugh Line.

It was caused by the train hitting a dump truck carrying stone for a sewage plant at a grade crossing.

Seventeen cars derailed with nine of them landing in Deer Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny. The derailment site is 100 yards from the Allegheny.

Also derailed were two of the train’s four locomotives. The train had 109 loaded cars and 116 empties.

A NS spokesman told reporters that investigators on Friday morning found leakage from a tank car. Two leaks discovered earlier that involved petroleum distillate were contained.

Workers were using floating booms in Deer Creek to prevent the spread of the leaking fluid.

The Coast Guard said the river will remain closed until the derailed cars are removed from the water.

Two NS crew members were treated at a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening. An NS spokesman said the crew members have since been released from the hospital. The truck driver also was injured in the collision.

Workers are making repairs to the railroad’s bridge over Deer Creek, which was damaged during the derailment.

NS Crew Members Injured in Derailment

May 26, 2022

Two Norfolk Southern crew members were injured after their train derailed after striking a construction vehicle at a grade cross in Harmar Township in the Pittsburgh region on Thursday afternoon.

News reports indicated that 17 cars derailed, and a railroad bridge was damaged. The bridge spans a tributary of the Allegheny River and some freight cars landed in the water.

One of the train’s locomotives landed on its side and at least one tank car leaking its contents. Officials said later that the leak had been contained.

Also injured was the driver of the truck. No details were immediately released on the condition of the injured but one news report described them as minor.

An NS spokesman said the eastbound train struck a dump truck carrying stone.

An online report indicated that the train was the 38G and the derailment occurred on the Conemaugh Line. The derailment also broke a water line owned by the Harmar Water Authority.

Heading for Downtown Pittsburgh

March 10, 2022

Port Authority of Allegheny County transit car No. 4011 is bound for Pittsburgh in this photo taken in Castle Shannon, Pennsylvania, in April 1990. PAT 4008 is waiting beside the Castle Shannon Administrative Building.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Report Details Infrastructure Projects Needed on NS Pittsburgh Line for Added Amtrak Service

March 10, 2022

The infrastructure improvements that will be made to the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern to accommodate a second New York-Pittsburgh Amtrak train include new tracks and interlockings.

NS and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have released the results of a traffic study that contains the planned infrastructure projects.

The costs of those projects range from $147 million to $171 million with much of the funding expected to come from federal money provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The projects include a new third track on the Rockville Bridge over the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, a new 5-mile-long main line track through Rose Yard in Altoona, the addition of three new interlockings (crossovers), and expansion of nine existing interlocking plants.

A new track would also be built through the Pittsburgh Amtrak station to enable freight trains to bypass it.

The report projects that Amtrak departure times from Pittsburgh will be 7 a.m. and noon with trains arriving in Pittsburgh from New York at 3:11 p.m. and 9:01 p.m.

The current schedule of the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian is to depart Pittsburgh at 7:30 a.m. and arrive at 7:59 p.m.

The NS Pittsburgh Line is among the nation’s most heavily used rail freight lines and has handled as much as 100 million gross ton-miles in recent years.

The route has a top speed for passenger trains of 79 miles per hour but operations are complicated by a 40-mile helper district with 1.8 percent grades over the Allegheny Mountains west of Altoona.

NS currently operates 45 trains a day on the mostly double-track line excluding helper moves.

The Pennsylvanian is the sole Amtrak operation between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg although in the passenger carrier’s early years the route saw three daily roundtrips between those points.

As recently as 2004 the line had two pairs of New York-Pittsburgh Amtrak trains.

An analysis of the report published on the website of Trains magazine noted that the report fails to explain how up until that point NS managed to accommodate twice-daily Amtrak service without unduly hindering its freight operations.

However, one change since the discontinuance of the Three Rivers in 2004 has been NS plans to increase clearances on the Pittsburg Line through the city between the Amtrak station and CP Wing in Wilmerding.

That will add more potential for traffic conflicts with Amtrak trains in downtown Pittsburgh.

Because of clearance restrictions on the Pittsburgh Line, NS routes its approximately 16 double-stacked container trains along the south shore of Monongahela River through Pittsburgh over the Ohio Connecting Bridge, Mon Line and Port Perry Branch.

The report used computer modeling to simulate passenger and freight traffic and assumed that by 2020 NS would be operating six additional manifest freights and one additional westbound intermodal train beyond today’s operations.

 “Norfolk Southern does not have adequate capacity to operate the proposed new and modified Amtrak schedules without degradation to both Amtrak and NS operations,” the report concluded. “To mitigate the added delay to both Amtrak and NS trains, and to protect NS priority (expedited) traffic, additional infrastructure is needed.”

Specific projects and their estimated costs are: Add mainline track at Pittsburgh station, $12.5 million to $18.5 million; add universal three-track interlocking at Milepost 276 west of the Johnstown Amtrak station, $9.5 million to $11.5 million; install universal three-track interlocking at Milepost 257 in Portage, $7.8 million to $9.8 million; add new main track between CP Altoona (Milepost 236.8) to CP Antis (Milepost 232.5), $51.5 million to $61.5 million; upgrading 9 miles of an existing controlled siding between CP Antis and CP Gray in Tyrone, $11.5 million to $14.5 million;  and added 8 miles of new mainline track between the Amtrak station in Harrisburg and CP Banks at Marysville, $50 million to $55 million.

The traffic study and report can be read at

NS Moving on With Pittsburgh Clearance Project

March 8, 2022

A project to improve clearances in Pittsburgh has cleared another hurdle.

The railroad received a favorable ruling from a mediator to proceed with work that will allow double-stack intermodal operations through a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

The plan still must be approved by the Pittsburgh City Council.

NS officials said the project will give the railroad two routes for stack trains through Pittsburgh.

Clearance restrictions now mean that all stacked container trains must use a circuitous route along the south side of the Monongahela River.

Much of the work in the project will involve lowering tracks under one bridge and increasing the height of three other bridges. A fifth bridge will be replaced.

Also being replaced will be a pedestrian bridge has that since been removed. NS pledged to donate $1.4 to two civic groups on the city’s North Side.

The project received resistance from neighborhood groups that contended it would create safety and pollution issues. The groups entered mediation with NS in 2019.

Funding for the project is coming, in part, from a $20 million state grant. NS said it hopes work on the project can get underway by 2024.

2nd NYC-Pittsburgh Amtrak Train Deal Reached

February 19, 2022

A deal to bring a second Amtrak train to the New York-Pittsburgh route was announced on Friday.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $170.8 million in infrastructure upgrades to Norfolk Southern’s route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

The work will involve creating additional capacity for NS freight trains at yards in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Portage, Altoona and Harrisburg.

The state will also help underwrite the operating expenses of the new train as it does the existing Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh.

It is unclear when the second train will begin. State officials had said it could be within three years but during a Friday news conference that included Gov. Tom Wolfe and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose, officials said it could be up to five years before the train begins service.

That estimate takes into account how long it will be before the capital improvement work is completed.

State officials said the infrastructure work will be funded in part with money the state had been saving to buy new passenger equipment.

However, Pennsylvania plans to use federal funding that it expects to receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help pay for new equipment that will be used by Amtrak.

The work on NS property is expected to begin after an operating agreement with NS is completed. Officials expect that process to be finished by June.